Maryland-Virginia Tech, which team needs to win more?
Two good teams will take the court tonight. But these are two teams hampered by limitations on the court and flawed NCAA tournament resumes. Virginia Tech (11-5, 2-2 ACC) is 78th in the RPI. Maryland (11-6, 1-2) is 87th. Both need strong runs the next two months if they want to avoid the NIT.
Injury and illness left Coach Seth Greenberg with a different roster than the one he had anticipated coaching in Blacksburg. After entering the season amid predictions they would finish second in the ACC, the Hokies are down to eight scholarship players and are in only slightly better position than the Terrapins.
Virginia Tech is 1-3 against the RPI's top 50, the lone victory against Oklahoma State (RPI: 36) on Nov. 26. The Hokies squandered opportunities to claim victories over Purdue and North Carolina, both of which earned three-point victories over Virginia Tech. The Hokies also have a black eye: a three-point loss to Virginia (127) on Dec. 5.
As for the Terrapins, they have one of the nation's best big men in Jordan Williams and promising young guards. But they struggle to consistently make free throws and three-point shots. They rank 313th nationally in free throw percentage (62.7) and 318th in three-pointers per game.
Their resume is devoid of a bad loss or a quality victory. Maryland has lost all of its games against the RPI's top 37, all games decided by single digits. The Terrapins have a significant problem, however: A 2-6 record against the RPI's top 100. The only victories came against Charleston and Penn State, although the Penn State win looks better now than it did in early December. Another problem: Maryland will only play four top 50 teams -- Duke, Boston College, Miami and North Carolina -- the rest of the regular season because of the weakness of this season's ACC. (Florida State may climb into the top 50 by season's end.)
This is not an elimination game by any means. But because of the state of this season's ACC, which is ranked as the nation's fifth-best conference in terms of RPI, the loser will face a much steeper road to the NCAA tournament. It is going to take nine or 10 ACC victories to have a reasonable chance at an at-large bid.
| January 20, 2011; 8:27 AM ET
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